- Associated Press - Friday, June 26, 2015

STAFFORD, Va. (AP) - Civil rights leaders are rallying opposition to a Confederate battle flag that flies over Interstate 95 in Virginia.

But the flag is on private property in Stafford County and the owner vows the flag will stay as a symbol of Southern heritage.

The Stafford chapter of the NAACP tells the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg (http://bit.ly/1GN4BdZ) that it has collected 200 signatures on a petition protesting the flag. NAACP President Aston Haughton calls the flag a “symbol of hatred and oppression.”

He is hopeful the petition will encourage lawmakers to ban such symbols.

The deadly attack on an African-American church in Charleston, South Carolina, has sparked a national debate on symbols of the Confederacy.

Earlier this week, Gov. Terry McAuliffe moved to have the Confederate flag removed from state license plates.

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Information from: The Free Lance-Star, http://www.fredericksburg.com/

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